Khiam prison was established as a military barracks built by the French mandate in Lebanon in 1933. Its strategic location overlooks the Golan and occupied Palestine. Upon Lebanon’s independence in 1943, the prison became a military barracks for the Lebanese army until after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978, where its use as a center of interrogation later turned into a prison as of 1985.

Hassan Saeed and his wife Abda Malkani are known to be the oldest prisoners in Al Khiam detention center in south Lebanon.

On September 24, 1998, the story of the couple began with the prison following charges of defending the land and resisting the occupation. At that time, Saeed and Malkani were in their 60s. The prisoners were tortured three times a day by either getting whipped with electric wires on sensitive areas of the body, or suspended on electricity poles. They were also asked sometimes to stay with no clothes on or to sit in a dark metal cage where the intolerable noise of batons hitting the cage was used as another way of torture. Saeed and Malkani were, in addition to the above, put in solitary confinement for months without light which was the primary reason behind Hassan Saeed’s loss of sight in 1999. Malkani died shortly after the liberation in 2000 immediately due to untreated illness from which she suffered throughout her detention period, namely neurological and heart disease.

Their son Muhammad was, during their imprisonment, able to communicate with them with the help of the Lebanese Red Cross via handwritten letters (which were routinely inspected by the Israelis). A correspondence between Muhammad and his mother, Abda Malkani, sent on September 23, 1999 shows white correction pen marks on about four of its context lines. Muhammad confirms that the white correction pen was added by the Israeli while inspecting the letter as the aim was to instigate divorce and separation of the elderly couple using rumor tactics and falsifying content and facts such as the Sept 23 letter.

The series explored separation, in various manifestations, which was once orchestrated then by the Israeli occupation with the help of white correction pens.

The diptychs in this series represent the couple, their land, their home and their family and the various ways in which separation can be touched, felt seen and observed. Using white acrylic paint, I slowly began my practice of manipulation which allowed me to sharply fabricate separation. I then further perfected my practice of detachment by constantly modifying the white border between the two photographs, taking photographs at different ranges, mixing between intimate space and somewhat neutral landscapes and finally by intricately assorting the diptychs as such.

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